Located in the Ecuadorian Andes, Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanos on earth; it has a long record of violent eruptions in the last sixth centuries.
The first historical eruption happened on 1534, followed by two devastating eruptions that destroyed Latacunga city on 1742 and 1744, where the entire town was teared down. Then, on 1768 an eruption was followed by explosions that were heard all the way to Guayaquil. And after some other smaller eruptions, the volcano was quiet for 23 years.
Another significant eruption happened on 1877, that was known for its lahars (volcanic mudflows) that traveled more than 60 miles (100 km) far from the volcano (towards to the Pacific Ocean at the west, and towards to the Amazon River at the east), and again Latacunga city was destroyed.
After other minor eruptions dated from 1903 to 1904, Cotopaxi volcano has been quite silent until 2015, when explosions occurred inside the volcano and the ash floated more than five kilometers high on the air.
Suddenly, since 2022, October 21th, Cotopaxi volcano has been registering a new eruptive process. Out of this time, the volcanologists have registered hundreds of fumaroles on the inner flanks, considerable ash emissions, and thousands of tremors.
Due to the increase of internal and external activity of Cotopaxi, the Ecuadorian government has declared on “Yellow Warning”, that means all citizens should be prepared for a volcanic eruption, identifying the safe areas, evacuation routes and meeting points nearby them.
Nobody knows when Cotopaxi will explode again, all we know is that if the volcano erupt again it will cause a massive disaster, harming the lives of more than 700,000 people. It could be a month from now; it could be in a decade, or even longer.
It’s important to remark that the terrain around the mountain’s base has many times been buried in pumice and ash blown out of the crater. The mountain itself is built up of alternating layers of dark-colored lava and falls of lighter-colored ash. So, although the situation of the volcano may appear alarming, it is also a part of its natural cycle and history.